Bloodstained and the completion compulsion

So I finally played bloodstained. I‘m here at 99% map completion, with a heckbunch of shards and finished quests and whatever, and now just about all I have left is to beat the main boss, and I kind of can’t be bothered.

This happens to me a lot. I wind up doing everything but the main story, trying to complete all the sidequests, minigames, and extra bits before the main story is finished, and often instead of advancing the main story. I did this in Final Fantasy XV, for sure. Then I get to the point where I have to do the main story, or in this case just finish the game, and it just pulls back the veil on "wait, why was I doing *any* of this in the first place? was I having fun at all?"

In the case of bloodstained, I did all these extra things to get stronger, and to make the parts of the game I like least (fighting bosses) as easy as possible. When the last thing to do is fight a boss, and the story is worse than nothing (worse because it takes a lot of time while being uninteresting and predictable) it's like wait... I don't like doing that stuff, what reason is there to keep going?

And why did I do all that stuff to get to that point? Why is my map 99% complete? why do I have level 9 familiars? What good was any of it?

Then there's the flip side of that coin, for folks who play through the main story, intending to do the side quests later. Then they get to the end and think - well, I'm finished, why should I go back and do those side quests?

What is it about a game like bloodstained that will get some of us grinding away as though it were fun, but without actually having much fun doing it? Is it the numbers going up? Is it the shiny shard animation? Do we just get that little dopamine spike of being like "oh, I did the thing I was trying to do?" I don't dislike bloodstained despite it being ugly, having a bad story, and feeling like work. Why don't I dislike it?

I feel like the Yakuza games do a good job with this stuff though you can fall into some of the same traps quite easily. The key here is the main story is interesting and well paced, while the side quests are goofy and interesting bite-sized affairs, and neither of them step on the others feet. But I still see through PS4 trophy analysis that only 40% of people are doing 10+ quests, or whatever.

This is a broad hand-wave-y topic but where do things fall for you all here? Do you try to 100% the game? Do you tend toward side quests over the main story? Do you burn through the main story like a rocket? How do you feel about the whole thing? And what makes you want to complete quests versus not?

For me it mainly depends on how compelling the side content is. It has to at least do one of these three things:

--Tell a fun story on its own (so not the FFXV sidequests)
--Give a really cool reward (which to me, is usually story-related or something unique, not just The Strongest Weapon)
--Be part of a game that I'm having an unusually fun time playing

If that's the case, I'll try to do everything I can before beating it. Collectathon stuff with no substantial reward other than an achievement I'll likely not go out of my way for unless I really love the game. If I don't do it before beating the final boss then I'm 100% not going back for it unless it's actual postgame content, and even then it better be pretty damn compelling (again, I usually need some story related reason or Really enjoy the gameplay).

I definitely somehow still have my childhood mindset of needing to see most games I play through, but there comes a point near the end when I'm just ready to beat them and will rush through the last couple of hours. It's rare I leave a game for good right at the final boss and if I do it bothers me to think about later.

I don‘t have a hard and fast rule on completion but it’s the games that splinter their narrative across the side content that get me. I‘m a proud owner of a Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut Platinum trophy, and I feel less of a goober for spending weeks of in-game time sleeping in a shed attempting to trigger time sensitive sidequests when it's all to discover whether Emily learns how to cook.

It definitely feels like less of a waste of time when you filter out your side shenanigans throughout the main story rather than plowing straight through then tying up loose threads at the end. I finished a second playthrough of Yakuza 0 this week and this time round I did both Kiryu's/Majima's side adventures to unlock the Legend styles which felt a lot more valuable when I had two thirds of the main quest left to play around with them.

I don't 100% games often but when you side stories exploring individual characters in Deadly Premonition, or Yakuza 0 using them to have the absolute most fun possible with its 80 settings, it makes you want to dive into it because it's integral to the game's personality and you want to hang out with that experience. It's not a checklist of Things To Do.

Yakuza is also guilty of Things To Do though, I've played all the mainline games now and I have to look in the mirror and admit to myself I will never Platinum any of them because I will never learn how to play Mahjong.

I agree with you on a lot of point with regards to Bloodstained. And I also 100%ed the map. I wanted to face the secret last boss. But basically once I found a combo of abilities that let me stomp the enemies, I gave up on all the rest of the grinding. I feel like the game went on just about as long as I could have tolerated.

I rarely do more than is needed to get through the game. But I will do a lot of extra content if I enjoy the play. I platinumed Bloodborne because I loved moving my hunter around. The only other games I have done that for are super breezy indie games with like five trophies.

I did a ton of extra stuff in Shadow of War en route to the first main ending to the game, mainly to power up Talion. But I put the game down once I got to the post game content. When there were no new enemy types and no new areas to explore, just a harder grind of the same content. Actually the same deal with Metal Gear Survive. The main campaign has a great power curve, but the post game grind for just more of the same and a couple optional bosses was a big nope from me. Dead Cells is another one where once I final had unlocked enough stuff to reach the end I had no desire to keep playing on the new game + modes even if there was new content to unlock.

Red Dead Redemption is the rare instance where the low key pace of the side quests was way more fun than the kind of janky story quests. Picking weeds and hunting animals was just more fun that chaotic gunfights that never felt skill based.

I feel like, its always a sensation of chasing something. Bloodstained has some moments that just feel so good in the hands that you want there to be just a little more of that. It feel enough like SotN that you keep hoping just around the corner is a little bit more of that feeling. In all the cases I've mentioned, the moment that anticipation of new fun dissipates, that's when I am finished with the game.

I‘ve always had a big issue with what I call “final dungeon syndrome.” When I’m playing through a game and really loving it, and I‘m clearly at the end of the game, I’ll stop before the finale, and start chipping away at whatever optional content I find fun. Once I run out of that, I put it down for a few months. I pick it back up thinking “this time I'll really finish it” and start a new game since I recall so little.

I used to be pretty completionist, but as time becomes a more scarce resource, I limit myself to what I really enjoy. Might be why even though I often only play a couple hours a week at most, 30 minutes of that is dedicated to playing NiGHTS - I really enjoy it. Similar thing for grinding in RPGs - I find it very zen and relaxing to just knock out fights while watching something. I don‘t really feel like I’m chasing something or trying to complete anything - I'm just extending the parts I enjoy.

@Lesmocon as you say, completing stuff feels fine or at least justified when it‘s tied to something that you’re invested in, like whether Emily learns to cook (which, I guess, she sort of does). Re: Yakuza, I am definitely not learning to play shogi to get all the quests finished though, yeah. Nor am I going to ever get good at that dang baseball game. I get that those things are supposed to be fun, but since they‘re definitely acquired tastes, I wish they wouldn’t tie any of them to quests with story in them! Just leave them as a thing you can do if you want.

@robinhoodie I can't imagine platinuming any large scale game really. there's always stuff in there (like the above) that's just a grind to complete or a huge wall to clamber over. When something like that starts to suck the fun out of the experience, that's when I start wondering whether I was ever having fun at all. So I've been learning when to quit on that stuff.

@James- I have that final dungeon thing too. I got right to the end of Persona 3, 4, devil survivor, FFVII (never beaten it), Grandia, etc. Toward the end I just lose steam, then I lose the plot (another thing Yakuza does well with its recaps and also with the reminders when you're standing still of what you're meant to be doing).

I'd like to make it a goal of making a game that's fun to platinum. Maybe the next one after Gunsport.

@exodus#1637 at least to Yakuzies credit they do change up those minigames sometimes, I despise the baseball game in 0 but the Dragon Engine version is a lot better, and if you‘re going for completion all of the courses have a set pattern for the pitches that’s exactly the same every time so you can follow a guide to clear them with no issues…but then that just flips the “what am I doing with my life” switch in my brain which is something games need to be more cautious about tripping over.

Yakuza's usually chill on not forcing you to play these distractions for too long...but there is a sub story in Judgment that forces you to win in Mahjong which almost made me write off the entire game on principle.

I reached, but did not beat, the final boss of Cave Story (twice), La-Mulana, La-Mulana 2, and Hollow Knight. For me, the exploration is the main draw of such games and I guess I lose interest when there's nothing more to discover. But that said, I think I will always feel somehow out of balance until I go back and beat those final bosses.

yeah I guess that's pretty close to how I feel about it myself

Sometimes I‘ve gotten to the point of no return and felt compelled to do everything I can to put off the ending, because I don’t want a game I've enjoyed to end. I spent plenty of time doing all of the FF7 sidequests, or in Revelations: Persona I spent months just wandering around the deepest parts of the shrine grinding away. Then I put the games down before actually doing the final dungeon, preferring the comfort of having one more thing left to do so I could still imagine being in those worlds, rather than completing them and putting them down forever.

Other times the point of no return is just a convenient place to stop. As I recall the final disc of FF8 is basically just the last dungeon and sidequests. I put that disc in, watched a cutscene or whatever and got control of my character, and immediately saved, turned the game off, and never picked it up again. All knowledge of the game basically leaked out of my ears too. Can't for the life of me remember what was happening in the game or why I even made it that far if it failed to hold my interest so much.

It could be because of differing genres, but I had no issues finishing Celeste or Dead Cells without delay. Celeste in particular, there was such a forceful momentum at the end of the game, I don't know how you can stop once you're close to the conclusion. But neither of those games have a "point of no return" either. Celeste had B-sides and Dead Cells had boss cells and randomized replayability. So there wasn't any worry like with FF7 or Persona, that I would be closing the door on either game. Of course, that ended up being how it worked anyway, since I never actually did those B-sides or boss cells. So good thing those games were structured that way and I was able to see the end of the narrative before putting them down!